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Property owners seek DEC OK for brownfield cleanups in Buffalo, Orchard Park

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments on requests by the owners of three sites in Buffalo and Orchard Park to clean up their polluted properties under the Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Earl Ketry's Ketry RE LLC is proposing to clean up a total of five parcels of the Buffalo RiverWorks site at 323, 339 and 395 Ganson St. that comprise 3 acres of adjoining land, with three structures, bounded by the Buffalo River on the east and railroad tracks on the west. It's zoned both heavy and light industrial, and is slated for reuse for commercial purposes, according to a DEC summary document.

The first building, on the 1.1-acre northern property, is a vacant grain silo and storage facility. The second building is a workshop and storage facility, while the third is another vacant grain silo and storage facility, although parts of it are used for recreation as part of the RiverWorks' entertainment complex. The latter two are on the 1.9-acre southern section. The rest of the land is asphalt, gravel and some green space, the DEC said.

The site was previously used for lumberyards, dry docks and shipyards, a linseed oil factory, grain silos, and grain milling and malting.

Not far away, at 225 Louisiana St., Buffalo Mercantile Building Ltd. is seeking to remediate a 4.23-acre property on Louisiana and Kentucky streets, between Mackinaw and South streets. The property has one commercial building that is used as a storage, warehouse and distribution facility by several tenants, with some vacant space, as well as asphalt and gravel parking lots and green space, according to the DEC.

The site had previously been used for bulk oil storage by an oil works company, as a lumberyard, and then for heavy industrial manufacturing – including for a foundry, nickel plating, machine shops, iron works, spray booths and painting, annealing, a forge shop with 17 oil furnaces, and an auto repair shop – prior to its current use. As many as eight underground storage tanks were onsite for nearly 50 years, the DEC wrote in its summary.

According to the DEC, plans call for rezoning two parcels at 175 Louisiana and 96 Kentucky as industrial land, and using them for parking, while three other parcels on Louisiana would not be changed.

In Orchard Park, Benderson Development Co. wants to clean up 17.91 acres at 3077 Union Road, near Southwestern Boulevard, according to the DEC.

The site, which includes a dilapidated and vacant retail strip plaza, is bounded by wooded land and commercial properties, and forms a triangle with the two main roads, wrapping around the Five Corners intersection. It was part of a larger $500,000 purchase of 40 acres by Benderson in March 2018 from the estate of Harold L. Gantzer, a former Buffalo civil engineer, plaza developer and onetime owner of the Buffalo River Marina.

The retail plaza used to include a dry cleaner and car repair business, while a second building was used for storage and equipment repair by a masonry contractor, the DEC said. There's also a parking lot.

Public comments for all three applications must be received by Dec. 6. The DEC's Buffalo office is located at 270 Michigan Ave.

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